And it’s peak tick season where I live right now. The ticks are so bad in some of the areas where I typically walk Otto and Tito (formerly Peanut) that I just have to avoid those trails for a few months. Otherwise, even with the dogs wearing a fresh application of Advantix and me spending a feverish hour when we get home going over them with a fine-toothed comb (literally – I use a flea comb), I end up finding one or two latched onto Otto, engorged with blood. It’s always Otto, too; Tito is small and his coat is short; I can find even the tiny deer ticks on him easily. But Otto is large and his coat is thick and wiry; the ticks can hide from even my flea comb rather easily.
Once upon a time, I used to think ticks were just gross — and of course painful for the dog. But I’ve become increasingly aware of the number of people who have been infected with Lyme disease from tick bites – and in just the past year, newly aware of the tick-borne diseases that dogs can get from tick bites.
Lots of veterinarians today are using SNAP 4Dx tests – an in-house blood test that can detect heartworm infection as well as infection with canine anaplasmosis and canine monocytic ehrlichiosis. Both diseases are caused by organisms carried by ticks. All of the tick-borne diseases have the ability to lie dormant for months and even years in a dog’s body, in what’s called a sub-clinical stage, until something (age or another illness) reduces the effectiveness of the dog’s immune system, and allows the infection to suddenly bloom into a chronic stage of active infection and illness. Allowing ticks to bite your dog means opening the window to possible infection with one of these difficult-to-treat diseases.
Because of this, and because our locals trails are so infested with ticks, I do use pesticides on Otto and Tito, in addition to assiduous post-walk grooming and inspections, and avoiding the most-infested trails. I’ve heard about numerous less-toxic preparations that can help ward off ticks – but I’ve never heard of any remedy that works as well as the commercial spot-on products against ticks. But surely I haven’t heard of EVERY remedy – and anything that’s effective that I could add to my tick-protection protocol would be welcome.
What do you do that really works against ticks?